Sakuracon License Roundup

Well, we’ve had another con, and this time three big publishers were there to say things about manga: Viz, Yen, and Dark Horse. What did they say?

worldtrigger1

Not much from Viz, which usually saves its big announcements for the summer. They did indicate that one of their recent Weekly Jump digital series, World Trigger, would be getting a physical release this fall. With a plot that features high school students with superpowers taking on invaders from another dimension, it’s hard for me to think of it as anything but ‘Precure for guys’, but I will be interested to see what it’s like – Jump’s really been hitting its stride lately.

The big announcements were from Yen Press, and not just in the manga department. Let’s start with manga, though, as I have a feeling that most of the fandom will be focusing on one particular license, so I’ll save that for the end. King of Eden is by the author best known for collaborating with Naoki Urasawa on Billy Bat and others Takashi Nagasaki (aka Richard Woo). Well, Billy Bat is still unlicensed, but we do have King of Eden, a new horror series with art by SangCheol Lee, who I am totally unfamiliar with. This one looks to be worldwide digital, so my guess is it’s starting in Japan at the same time it does here.

Pandora Hearts is getting an artbook, Odds and Ends, which will be hardcover and have a slipcase, like many Japanese artbooks these days. Everything’s going upscale.

Gou-dere Sora Nagihara is the ecchi title of the con. It’s by Suu Minazuki, creator of Sora no Otoshimono. Our hero is an otaku in love with a fictional character. One day she comes to life before him, but her personality is not quite what he was expecting. She apparently decides to get her new master a harem, or at least help him get some action. This is from Hakusensha’s Young Animal Arashi, as if the description didn’t already tell you that (it was either that or Champion Red). We shall see.

14-sai

Also from Hakusensha, from their sort of unclassifiable magazine Rakuen Le Paradis (think of it along the lines of Manga Erotics F), we get 14-sai no Koi, which I have been reliably informed is ‘excruciatingly adorable’. It features two 14-year-olds who are very wise and mature for their years… but they’re still 14, and falling in love with each other is going to bring all the awkward that this entails. The author, Fuka Mizutani, is best known here for several yuri stories in various anthologies. This isn’t yuri, but I feel her fans will want to seek it out anyway. It certainly sounds great to me.

Lastly on the manga front, we have a new title by Aki, whose Olympos Yen had previously brought over here, and perhaps best known for Utahime. Elhanburg no Tenshi ran in Shodensha’s Haruca, one of their more obscure josei magazines. Two childhood friends take over a castle supposedly haunted by an angel, but things quickly turn south when a woman becomes involved. Given my experience with Olympos, my hope is to have a better handle on what’s going on with this plot.

And then there’s light novels. Yen has had more success with this genre than any other publisher, something that they did not hesitate to bring up at the con. They’re putting out an omnibus hardcover of the Another novel, which had been released digitally a year or so ago, and whose manga they also released. However, they’re also creating a new imprint just for light noels, Yen On! What will debut from it this fall?

It wouldn’t be a light novel imprint without an awkward, long title that ends in a question mark, so let’s introduce ourselves to Dungeon ni Deai o Motomeru no wa Machigatte Iru Darou ka?, aka DanMachi, which Yen is releasing over here as ‘Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon?’. This seems to be another fantasy series along the lines of Zero’s Familiar, with a boy who wants to be an adventurer meeting a goddess who has trouble getting worshippers. I’ll bet you two to one it’s zany.

However, this was all a prelude to the big announcement.

IndexLN1

Yes, you’re not seeing things. To Aru Majutsu no Index, aka A Certain Magical Index. I’m not sure if Yen has licensed all 32+ novels right at the moment… my guess is about 6 with an option for more. But it’s certainly been one of the most requested titles of the last several years, and its spinoff series, A Certain Scientific Railgun, is selling quite well for Seven Seas. (As for the Index manga… trust me, read the books, it’s better.) I’m very interested to see how this sells. The lead male, Touma, is a divisive figure who acquires a harem yet makes no moves on any of them, and also has a story-breaker power he uses at least once per book. The heroine, Index… well, even that’s arguable, as Index may not actually be the series heroine so much as the series mascot. She also has a personality that Western fans have not exactly taken to their bosoms. That said, I really hope that everyone who demanded this series be licensed actually goes out and buys it, because this is a big investment, and kudos to Yen for going for it. Also, it has lots of cool things happening.

Lastly, we have Dark Horse, who added quite a bit of manga, to my surprise. Their continued re-release of CLAMP continues with the Legal Drug series coming out as an omnibus this fall. They’ve also licensed the sequel, Drug & Drop. Both series are published whenever CLAMP feels like it, so it should be easy to catch up with Japan. They’re also starting to digitize the bigger CLAMP titles, such as Card Captor Sakura and Chobits, later this spring.

There’s also the OreImo spinoff Ore no Kouhai ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai (My Kouhai Can’t Be This Cute), which Dark Horse is sensibly retitling OreImo: Kuroneko. This ASCII Mediaworks series runs in Dengeki G’s, and is, as you might guess, focused on Kuroneko’s storyline in this series. Given the way the light novel series recently ended, I will be interested to see if its fandom is still around to get this, but hey, it’s cute and moe as heck.

opus

And we have not one, but TWO titles from Satoshi Kon, whose Tropic of the Sea was released by Vertical recently. Opus came out in the mid-90s right before the author directed Perfect Blue, and was never finished in Tankobon form, though Tokuma Shoten published the ending in in the volume collection, which we’ll be seeing here. There is also Seraphim: 266613336 Wings, which was written by Mamoru Oshii, a creator that I have a lot of issues with. It’s also a mid-90s manga, from Animage magazine, and may I just note that that is an awful lot of wings in the title. If I were an angel, I’d want to cut back to maybe 4, or even less.

So that’a a lot of new stuff. What appeals to you the most?

First Look at Comic Walker

Last month, Kadokawa announced a new online comic portal, Comic Walker, that would debut this week. It has 116 titles in Japanese, of which 18 are also available in English. It also has an iPad and Android app, though I was only able to access the English titles on that, whereas on the website I can also see the Japanese titles. The content is downloaded to your device, similar to Viz’s app store, rather than in a Cloud setting, so you should be able to read it offline (though I didn’t test this.)

The site has a bit of fractured English when you sign up/log in and look at the Contact Info. The translations I checked, however, seem reasonably fine. So what have we got? We get the first chapters (mostly, some had 2 or 3) of 18 titles, 8 of have been released over here in North America in some print form or other – or will be soon. They are:

Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin (Vertical)
Neon Genesis Evangelion (Viz)
High School D&D (Yen, in May 2014)
Haganai: I Don’t Have Many Friends (Seven Seas)
Kyo Kara Maoh! (Tokyopop)
Takasugi-san’s Obento (DMP)
Sgt. Frog (Tokyopop)
The Melancholy of Haruhi-chan Suzumiya (Yen)

As you’ll notice, some of these already have digital editions over here from their respective companies. I spot-checked some of the titles, and they seem to be using the same text/translation that we’ve seen before. Fans of the Tokyopop titles will be interested, as both of those are out of print here now.

So, what’s as yet unlicensed over here?

loghorizon

Anime fans will be familiar with Log Horizon, which is just finishing up and has already had a 2nd season announced. This is the manga version, which runs in Enterbrain’s Comic Clear. The ‘sucked into an RPG’ plotline may seem a bit over-familiar to folks, but I know it has fans.

There are two other Gundam titles from Kadokawa’s Gundam Ace. Mobile Suit Gundam The Origin: Special Edition seem to take place after a lot of the current origin comic, and I’ll warm you, there’s a spoiler that I was unaware of, though I imagine most Gundam fans knew it already. (It involves a romantic pairing.) It seems to be in the style of the original, and takes place in Japan (so far – remember, all these are just brief chapters.)

And for the wackier side of Gundam, there’s Gundam-san, the superdeformed 4-koma version, similar to Haruhi-chan. This is for Gundam fanatics only – I admit I didn’t get a lot of the otaku humor. But it looks funny, so I will pretend I get it. LOL!

Kagerou Days comes from Media Factory’s Comic Gene, a magazine I expect to see more titles from in the future. This intriguing title deals with a social shut-in who stays on his computer, who meets a cyber-girl named Ene. Can she convince him to go outside? This is apparently based on a series of songs by the artist Jin.

Tokyo ESP is a Shonen Ace title, and if Tokyopop was still around it would surely have licensed it by now. It features a girl who develops psychic powers after seeing a flying fish, and how she adapts to being telekinetic, especially as it transpires she’s not the only one to gain superpowers. This seems like something X-Men fans would enjoy.

archfiend

The second-best title in terms of verbiage goes to New Sister Archfiend Testament, aka Shinmai Maou no Keiyakusha. It is also a Shonen Ace title, and is based on a light novel. Indeed, the premise SCREAMS light novel. Average high school student ends up with two new sisters, who are a demon lord and a succubus, and he invariably ends up as the master of one of them. Ecchi shenanigans no doubt ensue.

Fate/Kaleid Liner Prisma Illya Drei! is the sequel to two other Fate/Kaleid titles, which are themselves part of the giant Fate/Stay Night multiverse. This runs in Comp Ace and is also, I suspect, quite ecchi. It’s a pseudo magical girl title.

Nobunaga the Fool is a brand new title running in Kadokawa’s Niconico A, and also had an anime coming out this past winter. I wonder if this fool is anything like The Irresponsible Captain Tylor? Probably not.

Non Non Biyori runs in Media Factory’s Comic Alive, a magazine that you never know when you’re going to get pure fanservice or something really worth your time. (Usually, it’s the former – its fellow magazine Comic Flapper has the same problem, but reversed.) It’s the slice of life seinen manga that you KNEW a rollout like this had to have, involving an elementary school girl who moves to the country from Tokyo, and has to adapt to rural life.

Lastly, and by far the longest title, goes to Archenemy And Hero – “Be Mine, Hero” “I Refuse!”, a Comp Ace title based around a franchise called Archenemy and Hero (Maoyuu Maou Yuusha). This seems to be an alternate telling of the basic premise, so hopefully won’t be too obscure for those who don’t know the series. Similar to Spice & Wolf, this seems to mesh together high fantasy and business economics.

That’s it for now. I briefly looked at some of the Japanese titles. A few I’d love to see. Bodacious Space Pirates has a manga there, as does Full Metal Panic!. There’s also Tonari no Seki-kun, which may show up after Vertical releases it here.

How will this do? No idea. Unlike JManga, it seems geared more to Japanese readers. That said, the titles they have are pretty good, and there’s some actual bestsellers, as opposed to the all new series approach of Manga Box. What do you think, plan to give it a try?

Return of the Son of License Roundups

These are coming in so fast that I honestly can’t keep up, and I’m so glad that I’m not a news site.

biohazard

Viz had one more title I missed in the last roundup, which is Biohazard – Marhawa Desire, a Shonen Champion title that Viz will release under the Resident Evil name that North America uses. Given the tie-in, you can likely expect some horror here. It’s 5 volumes long.

celebration

The doujinshi anthology has done pretty well for companies in the past few years, as we’ve seen Dark Horse do one for Evangelion and Bandai do several related to Code Geass. Yen already had The Misadventures of Kyon and Koizumi. This one from Yen Press will actually be three from the same company fused together, and I suspect lots of comedy will ensue. It’s a good value for money, in any case.

alicediamonds

I’d seen this up on Amazon a while ago, but wanted to wait for confirmation as the info I could find suggested it was a light novel. But wait, I said. Seven Seas? Didn’t Adam Arnold say he’d rather gnaw his own leg off rather than publish another light novel? And yet there it is. This is what happens when you have access to a cash cow franchise. In any case, this novel is in the Alice in the Country of Diamonds series, whose premise I seem to recall is that Alice arrives in the new country but no one knows who she is. My guess, judging by the cover, is it’ll be another Blood pairing.

KoenoKatachi

As for Crunchyroll, they’ve announced so much I’ve gotten ridiculously far behind. 3 YKO titles, including the old JManga favorite And Yet The Town Moves. Some digital editions of manga already licensed for print, such as Heroic Legend of Arslan and Ajin. Lots of Moyoco Anno titles, including mature josei from Shodensha’s Feel Young and cute slice-of-life newspaper comic manga. A Morning manga that likely would not make it over to print anytime soon in Investor Z. And most exciting to me, Koe no Katachi, coming out as A Silent Voice, a Shonen Magazine title about a deaf student and the boy who bullies her then tries to atone for it years later. This may be the keeper of the group.

So, got any favorites in here?